Cultures / English / Identity

WFD 2015 – Growing Up in the Deaf Community: Coda, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Childhoods as a Third Culture Kid Experience

Abstract: A striking cultural difference between parents and their own children is taken for granted in most of our Deaf communities surrounded by the hearing world. Be it hearing children of Deaf parents, Deaf children of hearing parents or even Deaf children of Deaf parents as their parents have been raised in vastly different circumstances as compared to themselves, or are immigrants.  I suggest comparing this intimate experience of cultural difference in our formative years to that of a global community called Third Culture Kids. Biographic research on TCKs started out with privileged children of diplopmats, missionaries and soldiers, for example British children growing up and culturally mixing with local kids in India, while returning to a white anglo saxon home every day.  Since the experiences with cultural- and language brokering, constant re-location and its psychological effects was soon to be claimed by non-privileged persons, such as immigrants, the concept changed to Cross Culture Kids. In 2012, I have added the CODA experience to one of the many faces of CCKs. Since it originated from the perspective of privileged persons, the psychological effects are not merely negative, but positive as well. The CCK framework free from any clinical, ableist or audist tendencies can be very empowering. In this paper, I want to draw your attention to very similar biographies in further parent-child constellations mentioned above. The comparison will allow a new framework for relations between  both, Hearing persons and Deaf community members who grew up as cultural mediatiors, and for diverse Deaf community members among themselves, e. g. reflecting on Codas and Deaf Codas.  The paper will illuminate ways to differentiate our experiences more sharply without surrendering each group to terminal uniqueness. New perspectives of how to share our diversities open up. Download the presentation slides here: WFD Istanbul. Please let me know what you think.

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